Construction of Hubble’s main camera substitutor is completed

Ball Aerospace has completed the construction of a 288-megapixel WFI (Wide Field Instrument) camera. It will become the main optical instrument of the new Roman space telescope.

Preparation for placing the WFI in the vacuum chamber. Source: Ball Aerospace

The Roman Space Telescope is designed to observe large-scale structures of the Universe and study the influence of dark matter on galaxies. Another mission objective is to search for and obtain direct images of exoplanets.

To solve these problems, Roman will be equipped with a 2.4-meter mirror. A similar mirror is installed on the famous Hubble telescope. Because of this, Roman is often called its “substitutor”.

At the same time, there are a number of significant differences between the two space observatories. The first is that Roman will conduct observations in the visible and near-infrared range. The second is in the WFI camera. It has a hundred times larger field of view than Hubble’s main optical instrument. Thanks to WFI, Roman will be able to survey much larger areas of the sky than Hubble.

The main part of the work on creating the WFI camera was done by engineers from Ball Aerospace. They were responsible for the optical design, the filter wheel, the temperature control system and the adjustment compensation mechanism. Specialists of the Goddard Space Center provided critical optical elements, a system of focal planes, a relative calibration system, as well as control electronics.

The next step will be testing WFI in conditions close to space. After that, the camera will be transported to the Goddard Space Center, where it will be integrated with the other components of the observatory. Currently, the launch of Roman is scheduled for late 2026 – early 2027.

According to

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